I am what’s wrong with gaming today. At least, what’s wrong with MMO gaming.
As you’ve no doubt heard, Funcom opened up pre-orders for The Secret World today. To get a feel for how stoked I’ve been for The Secret World, here’s all the coverage I’ve had on the site: tag = The Secret World. (Spoiler: It’s 1 post showing a video.) I’ve also stated publicly that MMOs aren’t a good fit for me, and that I’m tired of subscription models that make me feel compelled to play in order to get my money’s worth.
The end result of all this? Of course I pre-ordered The Secret World this morning. I can’t help it. Curiosity about MMOs drives me. And I don’t even try to fool myself that this will be The One anymore. I’m sure I’ll play TSW for 2-3 weeks and then move on.
So why Pre-Order? Because I’m a sheep in sheep’s clothing. Oooo, I get to start 4 days early! Maybe. If I pre-ordered early enough. In those 4 days I’ll probably manage 2-3 hours of gametime! And I get to reserve a name! If I could think of one I felt like reserving. And play in beta weekends…though I’ve sworn off betas.
Essentially all Funcom had to do is throw up a bullet-pointed list of Perks and they had me. I’m not proud of this, but it’s the truth. And in being so weak-willed I just encourage game companies to keep dangling silly freebies in order to entice players to pre-order.
So I apologize to the gaming community for encouraging this type of behavior.
Now let’s start the griping portion of this blog post!
Pre-ordering is supposed to get you a name reservation.
I signed up, gave ‘em my credit-card info, got my “Thank you for pre-ordering” email but when I click the link to reserve my name I’m told I don’t have any Name Reservation ‘slots’. Hmm. And I have a big alert that says “You have a pending payment. Click here to complete payment” but when I click the link I just loop back to the same page with no options. So maybe I just need to be patient and wait for that payment to go through. I’m not irate about this, but I am a bit confused. [Update: OK just checked again and I had my name reservation slot, so scratch this one.]
Pre-ordering was supposed to get you 1 of 3 combat pets: A Doberman, a wolf, or a kitty cat. The wolf is super-awesome, the Doberman is pretty cool, and the cat is, well, a kitty cat. After I signed up my account page shows, under Your Products, “The Secret World – Preorder (Cat).” So what does that mean? I sure didn’t pick the cute little kitty. Is it a random selection? Is “Cat” just a placeholder and I’ll be able to pick later? Not at all clear. If I’m stuck with that cat I’ll be annoyed. I mean, I like cats and all, but I like ‘em curled up in my lap quietly purring, not out doing battle with me. That just seems silly.
Last up, during the process of handing over $50 to play the game, you’re already getting DLC marketing prompts thrown at you. In addition to that $50 for the pre-order you can spend $15 (a social pet, a set of weapons, and a leather jacket), $60 (30 extra days of gametime, and additional character slot, an additional name reservation, a high-end talisman for each new character, 10 experience potions and a 10% discount on all social clothing purchases) or $200 (everything in the $60 bundle plus a lifetime subscription and an exclusive leather jacket) more in order to get various bundles of extra stuff. You can also buy additional character slots and name reservations for $9.99 each.
[In days of yore I'd always go for Lifetime Subs because they (illogically) remove that pressure to get my money's worth out of a subscription gaming experience, but these days I just assume every MMO will go F2P within a few years of launch so Lifetime subs no longer seem viable to me. Anyone else agree?]
I have to say that I found all these offers a bit off-putting. All I could think was that if they’re pitching all this stuff now, by the time I get in the game I’m going to be smothered under all kinds of RMT offers. Asking me to spend real cash is fine (well, acceptable at least) in a F2P game, but if I’m paying a subscription I don’t want to see a bunch of ads for additional cost items.
All in all, I came out of the pre-order experience thinking “Hmmm, maybe that was all a big mistake.” but I’ve certainly wasted more than $50 on other games I never played much (~waves at SSX~), so I’ll stick it out. But come launch, Funcom better bring their A game if they want to convert me into a fan.